US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States
Negotiating with insurgents to end a counterinsurgency COIN conflict is an undervalued and largely unaddressed topic in US Army COIN doctrine. Historically speaking, however, insurgencies end in negotiated settlements more than any other form of war termination. In fact, the current US strategy to end the war in Afghanistan is to seek a negotiated political settlement with the Taliban. Given these realities, US Army leaders and planners must have a better understanding of the military and government roles in successful strategic negotiations with insurgent groups. This monograph addresses how current US Army COIN doctrine does not adequately address how to establish ripe moments for successful negotiated settlements in COIN conflicts. The paper is divided into four sections beginning with an overview of what current US Army COIN doctrine says about negotiations and negotiated settlements. The second section presents ripeness theory as a framework to consider the conditions that are necessary for negotiations to occur. The third section includes the case study of Colombias three negotiations conducted with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia FARC between 1982 and 2016. The conclusion section will discuss the implications for US Army COIN doctrine.